If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em, apparently. Jason D. Williams is invariably compared to Jerry Lee Lewis and not without cause. He’s a wild, rockin’ piano virtuoso whose playing definitely owes some style to the Killer’s Louisiana boogie-woogie-meets-rockabilly. So on his October release, Killer Instincts, Williams embraces that legacy and turns it on its head, opening with the tongue-in-cheek tribute, “Like Jerry Lee,” which he plays and sings in mock Jerry Lee style: “Everybody wants me to be like Jerry Lee/Watching Gun Smoke down in Tennessee/But I don’t take that many drugs and I don’t have oriental rugs/What am I gonna do I can’t be Jerry Lee.”
Williams combines great skill, fire and versatility with an equally great sense of humor, so he was well-matched in producer Todd Snider, the singer/songwriter who brought us songs like “Beer Run” and “Conservative Christian Right-Wing Republican Straight White American Males.” Word has it Williams first entered sessions for this album with a stack of covers in mind, but Snider inspired some spirited co-writing in the studio, resulting in stellar originals like “What Am I Gonna Do” and “You Look Like I Could Use a Drink.” Williams also regales listeners with an effortless mash-up of classical themes in “Yes I Can” (as in, “In answer to your question, yes I can ‘play classical’”) and adds a few tunes by his former band The Big Red & Green Ones. Killer Instincts is a blast to listen to—the meeting of two of Americana’s most endlessly entertaining musical minds.
Producer: Todd Snider. Engineer: Eric McConnell. Recording Studio: Blackbird Studios (Nashville). Mixing Studio: Ardent Studios (Memphis). Mastering: Jim DeMain/Yes Master (Nashville).